The Health Quest

What we eat passes it's life to us. The more alive it is, the easier it can do this. There is nothing morbid, or scientific, about this. It is intuitive to me that seeking food that once had (or still has) it's own health and vitality in life is the best guarantee for carrying on (or rebuilding) our own health and vitality. It's certainly a better guarantee than the USDA Organic label stamped on all sorts of processed, long-dead foods these days.

I'm not suggesting, in our quest for health, that it's a bad idea to seek out organic food. But the term organic that's used today has lost a lot of it's value, as has the food under it's label, now that it's been so heavily commercialized. There are all kinds of USDA Organic foods that I wouldn't touch with a 39-1/2 foot pole, if my goal was to eat something organic. I'm not going to contest the USDA--at least not right this minute--but it's worth thinking about. Cornucopia is an Institute here in Wisconsin that does a fabulous job pointing out flaws in commercial organics, especially in regards to mock organics in livestock production. At best, commercially available organic brands tend to follow the letter of the organic law, but not the spirit.

So if we want organic food full of spirit, the next place we may look is at local food. In our quest for health, local food often holds as much or more organic value than USDA Organics on the grocery shelves, even if it doesn't have the USDA label. All you need to do is talk to a local producer to learn if they are using organic methods. Old Plank Farm is among the local farms that easily meets USDA standards, but does not carry the organic certification the government offers.

But here again, local food can miss the mark as often as organic food does, if we’re focusing on eating foods full of health and vitality. I'm a fan of local donuts at the farmer's market as much as the next person, but we're not fooling anyone if we think that's helping us on our healthy food quest. And if you live next to the Hershey's Chocolate factory, then local food probably isn't your best option.

The holy grail of health can be found in the lowly, living vegetable, straight out of the organic garden, preferably with a little dirt still clinging to it. Vegetables are particularly well equipped to pass their life force straight to us because we can eat them when they are still alive.

This is a fairly unique quality that vegetables possess. For instance, it would be quite a bother to try to get a live chicken (even a local, organic one) onto your dinner plate, let alone into your mouth, without causing trauma to either the chicken or you. Or consider Christmas dinner with a turkey at the table. As if it's not hard enough to have in-laws, grandparents and a horde of wild cousins all in the same room. Add a live turkey and you'll wind up with a dining room that looks like Clark Griswold's in the movie "Christmas Vacation" after the dog fails to catch the runaway squirrel. So it would seem best to continue cooking our poultry, for everyone’s sake.

Vegetables, on the other hand, are so much more agreeable at the dinner table. No feathers, no feet, no fuss. And the more alive, the better.